The murder trial of ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is underway, at least in terms of the jury selection process, and it’s bringing renewed media attention to the controversial case.
Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill, however, is clearly not a fan of the press coverage. According to the Daily Caller, the judge reportedly threatened to remove reporters from his courtroom in response to the actions of certain journalists covering the trial.
During court proceedings on Wednesday, members of the press pool allegedly attempted to sneak a peek at information related to Chauvin, whose actions during the fatal police stop of George Floyd sparked nationwide protests last summer.
Cahill issued a warning to reporters over an alleged attempt to view notebooks being used by prosecutors and defense attorneys, as well as a report that detailed the security measures in place during the high-profile trial.
According to the Associated Press, the judge described the attempts to view private notebooks as “absolutely inappropriate” and called out the “completely irresponsible” media reports outlining various security protocols for the trial.
Without naming specific outlets or reporters, the judge also warned the media that they could be banished from the court’s media center for the duration of the Chauvin trial, the AP noted.
Because of the ongoing public health crisis and the circumstances surrounding the trial itself, only two reporters from a large media pool had been permitted in the courtroom at the same time.
The entire trial has been broadcast live for the general public to observe, however, which is reportedly a departure from the norm among Minnesota courts.
In addition to threats about removing media from the court, Axios reported that Cahill is also considering the possibility of delaying the trial or moving it to a different venue.
Those serious measures are on the table as a result of the extraordinary amount of media coverage and publicity surrounding Floyd’s death and Chauvin’s impending trial. Another attention-grabbing detail was the $27 million settlement from the city to Floyd’s family, which was announced near the start of the jury selection process.
Among the concerns surrounding that intense media spotlight is the potential difficulty of assembling a 14-member jury — 12 jurors and two alternates — that has not already been tainted or overly exposed to details rendering them incapable of serving as unbiased jurors.
It remains to be seen whether the reporters covering the trial take heed of the judge’s warnings or if Cahill will be forced to follow through on his threat to remove the press from his courtroom.